In the period preceding World War I a surprising number of young Jewish women in Habsburg Galicia left their traditional Orthodox homes for life in the Catholic Church (mostly in the Felician Sisters’ Convent in Krakow). Although the Jewish community tended to portray this phenomenon as kidnapping, and some families involved government authorities in their attempts to recover their daughters, the situation was far more complex. In her new book, “The Rebellion of the Daughters: Jewish Women Runaways in Habsburg Galicia” (Princeton University Press), historian Rachel Manekin performs a brilliant work of detection, revealing to her readers the inner lives of these young women. Delving into Polish police records, trial transcripts, and other first-hand materials and letters, Manekin introduces us to a world of intrigue, complicated family dynamics, relations between Jews and their surroundings, associations with the Church, as well as precursors to feminist thinking. She shines a new light on history that has implications for the Jewish world in all times and places. The relevance for contemporary educational practice is profound, and Manikin draws a straight line from the tragic events described in her book to the establishment of the Bais Yaakov movement and other advances in women’s Jewish education that have ongoing contemporary impact.
“The Rebellion of the Daughters” was recently reviewed in TRADITION by veteran educator Beverly Gribetz (open access here). In this episode of the podcast we bring together author and reviewer for a conversation about the book, the world it explores and its meaning for our own.
Rachel Manekin is associate professor of Jewish studies at the University of Maryland. She is the author of “The Jews of Galicia and the Austrian Constitution: The Beginning of Modern Jewish Politics.”
Dr. Beverly Gribetz has recently retired as the Principal of the Evelina de Rothschild-Tehilla School in Jerusalem.